Planes2Doc's Ultimate Guide to Final Fantasy 7, Medical School Purgatory, & Typical Pre-Med Missteps

Planes2Doc

Residency is ruff!
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Jul 23, 2012
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There are only two kinds of successful pre-meds:

1. Those that make into medical school.
2. Those that drop the pre-med track soon enough to embark on a new path and become successful.

There is NOTHING in between, and there is no consolation prize waiting for you if you don't have that acceptance in hand. All of those volunteer hours, the entry-level clinical job that you don't need a college degree to do, what do they mean when it's all over?

They are an inconvenient truth that awaits all too many pre-meds. On SDN, you have people post in this forum when they are pre-meds. Some make it into medical school, and some do not. Usually when someone decides to drop the pre-med track, they will stop posting on SDN. There isn't going to be a goodbye post, why should there be? No one is going to continue posting here if they aren't going to medical school. All you see is silence.

In that silence we fail to see what lead up to that failure, and that's the problem. Let me explain.

*"Pre-Med" is a real-life RPG with real-life consequences*
Here's a little about me. I took the non-traditional path to medical school. I came from Northwestern University (Go Cats!). I majored in economics. I had dreams of becoming an investment banker, but given the fact I wasn't at an Ivy League school, there weren't too many banks recruiting on campus like let's say Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, and etc. I ended up getting a job in revenue management in one of the country's largest airlines, and worked there for a year. At that point I found my work incredibly unfulfilling, and wanted something more. I quit, did a post-bacc, then joined another airline in case I would need an additional gap year, but made it. Now I'm a resident. During that journey in undergrad, I focused on getting a business career, and had a "general" focus toward that goal. I shot high, for investment banking, the ultimate goal of just about everyone doing economics or business at universities across this great nation. Like most, I landed short of my goal, no pun intended. But that's okay, because even though my job kind of sucked, it paid decently and lots of people started there and worked their whole lives in revenue management as a career-track. So at no point did I feel underemployed.


My job wasn't great, I wasn't all too happy, but my at least life didn't end up like the "Death Cruiser 10"

My brother-in-law's girlfriend decided she wanted to go to law school. She majored in liberal arts stuff in college, and then decided to study for the LSAT. She has been working a 9-5 job and has been studying for the LSAT. She plans on taking it soon. I knew a few other people that went to law school as well. Some studied for the LSAT during undergrad, and some did later on shortly after graduating. A couple people worked as law-clerks over the summer or part-time, and some didn't.

The majority of people that I knew from Northwestern ended up in business careers, ranging from consulting down toward specific analyst positions at a variety of different companies. I didn't actually know anyone that made it into investment banking, but as for the people I keep in touch with, they are pretty happy with their lives. None of them consider themselves underemployed. Most are married with kids.

I'm sure at this point you are getting a little bit confused. You are just about ready to report my post for being off-topic. What do these business people or law students have to do with getting into medical school?!

Well, I'm here to make a point. When I mentioned people going to law school, I never referred to them as "pre-law." There really isn't such a thing when you ask people. It seems like most end up taking time to study for the LSAT or GRE, and then roll the dice with admissions. When I mentioned people going into the business world, I referred to them aiming high with investment banking, but landing somewhere short of that goal. But, none of these people consider themselves underemployed, and appear content with their lives, at least from Facebook.

This brings me to "pre-med," which is a term thrown around by lots of people at colleges all across this country. Let me define what a pre-med actually is for you.

A pre-med is someone that is trying to get into medical school. A pre-med must take the prerequisite science courses, take the MCAT, have some clinical experience (NOT SPECIFIC SKILL SETS), as well as satisfy the unwritten rule of volunteering.

Let me repeat that for you...

A pre-med is someone that is trying to get into medical school. A pre-med must take the prerequisite science courses, take the MCAT, have some clinical experience (NOT SPECIFIC SKILL SETS), as well as satisfy the unwritten rule of volunteering.

It's actually pretty simple. A lot of people can satisfy these things fairly easily. You pick a non-science related major, let's say economics. You throw in biology, chemistry, physics, and organic chemistry into the mix. You volunteer once per week in a hospital emergency department for four hours per week, and get at least 50 hours shadowing a few physicians over three years or so. Then you take the MCAT, you apply to medical school... And... You get in! It's that simple, right? Well it can be, but unfortunately it doesn't end up way for many.

The "pre-med" track has somehow turned itself into an RPG. But there's a downside. People are going off onto numerous side-quests. These quests become too convoluted, often taking people far off the path, and sometimes leading to game over. These quests will have minimal to no bearing on your life once you actually become a medical student. But unlike playing today's games where you just continue from your last save point, real life is more like playing an old school arcade game. You die or fail, and you need to insert more coins for credit. If you're out of coins, well then, it's all over for you.


Unfortunately real life isn't a game

*Final Fantasy 7*

Final Fantasy 7 was released in 1994 for Playstation. It is one of the greatest games ever created. I have played it through many times, more recently on my PC with an emulator.

The original box art for the game

Here's what happens in the game. You are trying to save the world because it's being drained of its natural resources by an evil corporation. Later you are actually fighting against a super powerful dude that was created by them and trying to destroy the world with a giant meteor. Okay, that sums it up in two sentences.

So you can either coast through the game with no side-quests and all that good stuff, and defeat the enemy, Sephiroth at around level ~40. Or... You can do numerous side quests that will take you days, if not weeks, to complete! You can max everything out at level 99, breed the ultimate Gold Chocobo, get Knights of the Round materia replicated multiple times, and defeat enemies that are far more powerful than the final boss, Sephiroth, who is much easier when doing simple linear game play. In fact, defeating Ruby Weapon was one of the hardest things I have ever done in terms of my childhood, and would still prove a daunting task for many people.


I'm not sure what's harder... Ruby Weapon or Step 1?

So what does this have to do with pre-meds? What I'm getting at is that pre-meds these days are straying far away from the linear path of getting into medical school. They are suddenly going off on numerous side quests so that they can level up their volunteering or "clinical skills" (most of which have absolutely nothing to do with being a doctor) to super duper high levels! By attempting this non-linear path, they usually have to throw all of their eggs in one basket. But what happens when you get defeated by the enemy? The screen goes black, the gloomy sad music starts, and you can press continue. You can then pick up from your last save point. Well, that's in terms of Final Fantasy 7. But what happens in real life when you get defeated and had all of your eggs in one basket? Often it isn't a just a simple set-back, where you start at an earlier save point. Often times it has catastrophic consequences that will affect THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Also, given the fact that people drop the pre-med process almost instantly when things get bad, you won't hear about what happened on SDN (assuming they are members). They aren't going to write a post detailing the mistakes they made and what they wish they could have done instead. The accounts just go silent.

*Learning from Others' Mistakes*

Something to live by

The purpose of this long post is so that you can learn from the mistakes that others have made, as well as myself. In a high-stakes environment where people put everything on the line, you definitely do not want to make mistakes yourself. Also given the quick nature of falling off the path, you usually don't hear about what went wrong on SDN. So let's take some time looking through the pre-med process and where people make mistakes, and what can be done to make it better.

As I wrote above, there are only two types of successful pre-meds:

1. Those that make into medical school.
2. Those that drop the pre-med track soon enough to embark on a new path and become successful.

The first group of people are not those that I worry about. They do well in college, properly balance both the written and unwritten requirements, and get in. Sometimes they take a gap year, but there are no major flaws in their applications that would prevent them from getting into medical school. They are not the focus of this post.

Let's focus on the latter for just a little bit. These are often the people that declare themselves pre-med when they start college. They may have a science-based major, or they may not. Either way, they start their freshman-level core course, and find themselves getting their ass kicked by the end of first semester. They realize the journey to medical school is harder than they expect. They decide not to pursue it. They either drop the class or re-register for something else in the future. They switch to a non-science major if they were previously doing something like biology. They end up on whatever other path that has nothing to do with medical school, and that's the end of that. I've met people in successful business positions that told me they were "pre-med" at some point in college. 95% will never think about or try applying to medical school ever again (5% may become non-traditional applicants down the line, and that is not the focus of this post). You may or may not have seen them on SDN. They may have made a post or two, or lurked, but often will be done with SDN quickly and abruptly. I consider these to be the other SUCCESSFUL pre-meds because they were able to get out long before any permanent damage could be done. They were able to embark on another path and find great success in life not involving medical school.

Now let's look at the people in the focus of this post. The ones that not only did not get into medical school, but also those that were too far gone or invested into the process that the rest of their lives were affected.

*Meet Brian*

Meet Brian, he's a pretty nice guy. I met him in my general biology during my post-bacc. He was a freshman at the time, and was his first science class. I sat next to him in class, and we became friendly. He was a biology major, and had aspirations to work as a cardio thoracic surgeon. Today he works an EMT (he did not work as an EMT during undergrad). Brian was for most part following the linear path of what most pre-meds do. He was a biology major, started volunteering once weekly in a hospital, and was studying. Unfortunately for him, biology started off kind of rough. He ended up with a D in the class, and was relieved that he passed. At this point of the game (or even earlier), lots of college students would call it quits with pre-med. They would pick up other majors, and move on with their lives. Brian continued with the pre-med courses, volunteering, and shadowed some physicians along the way. He took the MCAT (never told me his score), but I'm assuming his grades didn't allow him to get in. During his senior year, he became a research assistant and then became an EMT after graduation. To this day, he is an EMT and not in medical school.

Misstep Lesson #1: Knowing When to Quit
When Brian got a D in biology (arguably the easiest of the basic sciences), this should have served as a red flag for him. At this point, or even earlier, the majority of "pre-meds" will call it quits and pick a different path. If they are science majors, they will switch to something else. For those that switch to business, for example, you may not become an investment banker with that crappy grade, but you can still get a pretty good position elsewhere for a stable career-track. Brian didn't overdo any side quests, or even take any for that matter, he just couldn't handle the academics. The material in medical school isn't hard per se, it's the VOLUME and speed that is killer. If you can't handle general biology, you shouldn't proceed further to medical school. I'm not trying to be rude. The ultimate class that acts as the great weed-out in the pre-med process is organic chemistry. At that point, people get weeded out and quit. Unfortunately, that is sometimes a little late for people, and they find themselves stuck in basic science majors that can't land them decent jobs once they graduate. The luckier ones can change things around and not find themselves underemployed. Brian worked as a research assistant and now works as an EMT. Neither of these will make up for him poor academic performance in college.

The takeaway message: Knowing when to quit is important. The further you linger in the pre-med process, the more doors you shut on reasonable future careers. If you get your ass absolutely handed to you in your first science class and you can't seem to handle the material, get out now! In fact, you should have gotten out yesterday.

*Meet Dave*

Meet Dave, he's kind of an outspoken jerk that is arrogant and likes to talk crap behind a lot of peoples' backs. But that's okay because he had both clinical and non-clinical volunteering during his undergraduate years, which put him on track toward becoming the Second Coming of Mother Teresa. His grades during undergrad were mediocre, and for whatever reason, he ended up talking as many courses as he could that centered around the neurosciences. He found research opportunities later on that centered around this very same topic. He kind of overdid it with some difficult college courses and did a little too much research, which ended up ruining his MCAT score. Nonetheless, he was incredibly proud of this accomplishment. He got an LOR from the department chair, saying that had there been a neuroscience major, Dave would have completed it. He was very proud of this fact, and saw it as a badge of awesomeness that would land him a highly coveted spot in medical school. He continued to do research once he graduated, but never ended up getting into medical school. He continues to do research to this day, and is still the same jerk he was when he started undergrad.

Misstep Lesson #2: Keep Your Major and Path Simple and Practical
It seems that most pre-meds end up picking a science-based major. I'm not sure why, they just do. The largest number seem to go into biology, and then there are others that do chemistry or physics. Some get a little more adventurous and major in something likely microbiology, neuroscience, or Your Mother-ology. Regardless of what they actually major in, they all have the goal of going to medical school and becoming a physician. I have yet to meet anyone from my previous medical school class or colleagues from residency that wishes they were working as biologists instead of doctors. Yes, there are people that plan on pursuing these science careers, but unlike pre-meds, they don't land on these careers as a fallback. What's the other difference? A biology major that is intent on working as a biologist or some other position in the field would likely have had good grades and work experiences to land a good job. How about the failed pre-med biology major? They probably had crappy grades and lacked work experiences that would have helped them land a decent job. Sure, they might look like the Second Coming of Mother Teresa with all of that volunteering, but I don't think the employers would care. People like Brian and Dave ended up underemployed, despite their bachelor degrees in biology.

Medical schools DO NOT care what major you are. Fancy stuff will not really impress them more. A higher GPA, MCAT, and fluff is what will impress them. If you pick something more practical like a business degree but your pre-med prerequisite grades suck, you can still have a good shot at landing a decent CAREER, and won't find yourself underemployed.

Please read this for more information regarding choosing majors and a path: Planes2Doc's Ultimate Guide to Maximizing Your Medical School Application
 
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Planes2Doc

Planes2Doc

Residency is ruff!
7+ Year Member
Jul 23, 2012
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The South
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Resident [Any Field]
*Meet Nina*

Meet Nina, she's a pretty nice girl. She currently works as an office manager in a large primary care clinic. During college, she wanted to go to medical school. Like many others, she started with science courses, volunteering once weekly, but also started working at a doctor's office part-time. She assumed that doing an entry-level clinical would help her application to medical school dramatically. Even though the job was part-time, it still conflicted with her classes. She was more or less a private person, and did not share her grades with her friends. All I know is that she never mentioned applying to medical school, and continued to work in the same medical office after graduating from college with a BA. This is the very same job she worked WITHOUT a college degree. Thus she remains underemployed many years after graduating from college, and working a job that someone can do with a high school diploma. I would like to talk about another person before hitting on another Misstep Lesson.

*Meet Matt*

Meet Matt, he's a dashingly handsome lad. He currently has some analyst position in the business world. During college, he wanted to go to medical school, just like every other person here. He was actually my lab partner in college physics during his sophomore year. He was a pretty smart guy, and knew what he was doing. I noticed that during lab, he often looked incredibly tired. One day I said, "Wow dude, you look like you're about to pass out!" He told me that he works for the university's EMS service, and worked a night shift before our class. He was working numerous shifts per week, and he looked exhausted every single time he was in class. Somewhere along the way, he faltered and never ended up taking the MCAT. He changed his major to business, and currently works as an analyst.

Misstep Lesson #3: Your Goal is Medical School!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Well, he wasn't entirely screwed since he did not end up underemployed. So, what makes his experience so special? It's the fact that his experience MIRRORS THAT OF MANY PRE-MEDS HERE ON SDN! Over the past few weeks, I have noticed non-stop threads regarding entry-level clinical jobs. You see a lot of the typical stuff. You see people comparing EMT versus CNA, EMT versus scribing, an entry-level clinical job versus non-clinical job, and entry-level clinical job versus volunteering. Clinical jobs are something that end up absolutely killing pre-meds. Not only do they destroy their chances of matriculating to medical school, but also ends up destroying their chances for a decent career in the future since they often wreak havoc on their GPA. Both Nina and Matt thought their jobs would give them a massive leg up in the admissions process by making them look better. But instead, these shifts cut right into their much-needed study time for classes and the MCAT. Despite having this "medical experience," it will not make an otherwise poor application with bad grades or MCAT look better.

What do ADCOMs want? They want you to have CLINICAL EXPERIENCE. What exactly is clinical experience? It is having seen the clinical environment, so you know what you are getting yourself into. The purpose is NOT to learn any specific clinical skills. Can you repeat this with me? The purpose is not to learn any specific clinical skills. Now repeat it as many times as you need to in order to get this into your head. Medical school starts you at STEP ZERO. You will learn the most basic of skills required for becoming a doctor and will not feel left behind. There were a few former CNAs and scribes in my class, and they may have had one class worth (and that's being generous of course) of an advantage over the rest of us (since they knew how to check vitals and simple stuff like that). But otherwise, never did I feel left behind or lacking of any skills. Never did I say to myself, "I wish I was a:thumbdown: [INSERT ENTRY-LEVEL CLINICAL JOB] before medical school!" This is not like PA school, that acts as a fast-track curriculum and therefore requires hundreds of paid clinical experience hours. Even so, my friend that is a PA said the following: "Honestly I don't see why it makes a difference!! I did enjoy my paid clinical work before PA school but it's stupid that it's required. Those jobs are so low paying. It's like PA school expects you to work as an MA or CNA for $15/hour for 2 years just to get into PA school."

How do I view entry-level clinical jobs? Let's put it into a different perspective. Let's pretend your dream is to become an airline pilot. You can go ahead and become a flight attendant if you'd like. You'll see the airport, you'll the airplane, you'll interact with the pilots, and you may even find yourself in the cockpit on some occasions. But at the end of the day, despite seeing both the airport and airplane, you are not a pilot. You are not doing anything that has anything remotely to do with piloting a plane. This will not make you a better pilot in any way.


I do not think he knows how to fly the plane, and that's okay!

The same can be said of entry-level clinical jobs. Sure, you'll see the clinical environment. You'll interact with patients, and other members of the healthcare team. But you will NOT be performing tasks that doctors are expected to do. So far, throughout clinical rotations in medical school and now working as a resident, there are many things I have never done, have never been expected to do, and will likely never do. I haven't fed a patient, I haven't wiped a patient's butt, I haven't emptied a patient's bed pan, I haven't bathed a patient, I haven't tried to figure out a nursing home or rehab facility placement for the patient, and the list goes on. I'm not saying this to be a jerk or to be all high and mighty. But these are not tasks that a doctor does. These are not tasks that the doctor will be expected to do. There are positions in the hospital that take care of these things, and are paid to do so. A doctor is not a magical Swiss Army Knife that has to do every little thing from diagnosing and formulating a treatment plan, to wiping the patient's butt, all the way to figuring out placement after discharge. There are people there for that. They are paid to do this. Never be afraid to ask people to do THEIR job. I'm not saying what they do is unimportant or is below me. All I'm saying is that there are different duties delegated to different members of the healthcare team, and it is that way for a reason. Everyone has their place and their own things to do.

Also, while you get paid, it is pocket change compared to future earnings as a doctor as well as potential losses by either doing an expensive SMP or getting crappier jobs as a result of dropping the pre-med track.

The doctor is not supposed to be like this Swiss Army Knife

For some reason, people seem to take most offense when I write about entry-level clinical jobs. People tell me that I'm flat out wrong. Look, I'm not saying your experiences are worthless. That's not what I'm trying to get at. All I'm saying is that you will have the rest of your life as a physician to have these experiences. You will laugh. You will cry. You will cure. You will code. You will see patients die from right in front of you. I promise you, you'll have the ability to experience all of these things. I know I have during both medical school and now as a resident. But there is no need to start trying to become a Chief Medical Scribe when your goal is to become a physician. These jobs do not set you apart since so many people are already doing them, and can negatively impact your grades and MCAT, ultimately destroying your chances of getting into medical school. Often times, people remain underemployed and stay in these entry-level clinical jobs. I have compared these to having your Bar Mitzvah in Judaism, so check it out if you'd like: Clinical Jobs, Bar Mitzvahs, and Why You Shouldn't Do It

Also, another important thing I'd like to note is quitting entry-level clinical jobs you already have. Some people find that they are conflicting with school, and choose to drop them. First of all, I'd like to say that no one in your life will be loyal to you except your family and your dog. Employers do not care about you, and will fire you if you aren't performing well, or just for any other reason. If you feel that your grades are being impacted, quit! The best way to do it is a two week notice, so you can hopefully quit without burning bridges. If this isn't possible, then quit immediately. Just because they are short-staffed is NOT YOUR PROBLEM, IT IS THEIR PROBLEM. All jobs have turnover rates, and managers are supposed to deal with it. It's just a part of being in the business. My cousin is a general manager and part owner at a high volume car dealership. He says the biggest joke in the business is a two-week notice. People just walk out (usually with profanities), and that's how it goes. He deals with it. It's a part of being a general manager of a car dealership. It is not worth sacrificing the rest of your life (by getting bad grades or an MCAT) just so this company that doesn't give two $h1ts about you can find a replacement. If things went bad and bridges were burned, the solution is simple. Leave it OFF your resume and AMCAS application. Unless your name was on a website or you had this listed on Facebook or Linkedin as your employment, there will be no way to look up your previous employment history. You do not need to disclose every little thing, and especially things that will make you look bad! Just take the hit from the wasted hours (at least you got paid), and move on.

*Meet Planes2Doc*
Wait, what? Yeah, I was in the process of making some mistakes early on in the process, but my parents helped to set me straight before I was able to do any real damage. Initially when I was a pre-med in undergrad (which I quickly dropped and picked it up as a non-trad later on), I wanted to get a volunteering gig at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in downtown Chicago. It's an incredible facility and is one of Chicago's premier healthcare institutions. I thought that volunteering at this premier institution would give me a leg up in medical school admissions. The hospital is located in a busy part of Chicago, where parking is extremely difficult to come by. It is roughly a 40 minute drive from my parent's house in the suburbs without traffic. I asked my parents if they could pay for my parking when I would volunteer there one day over the weekend. They said no right off the bat, because parking is so expensive! I then asked if they would pay for me to take public transportation. They also refused, and then told me to volunteer somewhere closer. Ultimately, I found a hospital volunteer site only 10 minutes from my house! I did my four hours per week, and only spend 10 minutes each way commuting. Had I been at Northwestern, I would have spent 1:20 alone only commuting! If I elected to use public transit, I would have wasted hours of incredibly valuable study time! I didn't realize this then, but am now grateful for the way things worked out.

Misstep Lesson #4: Learn the Differences Between Selectivity and Being Unselective
At the time, I was willing to sacrifice hours of precious study time in order to get the same experience of doing menial tasks at a hospital with a well-known name. This is where the lesson on selectivity (and lack of) comes about.

Selectivity: This means that an institution will look at your accomplishments, whether grades, experiences, or anything else and will decide if you will be accepted or not. Some institutions, like Harvard Medical School, can be incredibly selective in the students that get into medical school. Becoming a student or becoming a professor or physician associated with the institution is very selective. Then you have fourth tier schools that no one has heard of, and they are not very selective. You can have poor grades, and get in.

Unselective: This means that an institution will accept or hire you as long as you are of a certain age, are a US citizen or legal resident, have no criminal history, do not have tuberculosis, and etc. Therefore, regardless of the institution, just about anyone can meet this criteria. Therefore, if you want to volunteer at Massachusetts General Hospital that is affiliated with Harvard Medical School, you will need to meet this criteria. They do not look for super special awesome senior citizens and will not have some rigorous process. Also, if you want to be a janitor there, you do not have to be an elite janitor with crazy awesome past experiences and education. Many of the positions there are unselective. Now if you want to match into residency there or be an attending physician, then it will indeed be selective.

There are many pre-meds, including myself at one point, that do not quite comprehend what selectivity means during the pre-med process. You should try to volunteer at the closest place to you with the most convenient hours. The name of the hospital won't matter since it is an unselective process for finding volunteers.

The same goes with shadowing physicians. Back in the day I got into a back and forth argument on SDN with an arrogant pre-med. They said their shadowing experience was superior to other peoples' experiences, because this doctor is self-proclaimed the best in their community and only takes very few people to bring shadowing. Since this pre-med and his brother were family friends, they had this amazing opportunity that was most definitely going to be a golden ticket into medical school! I told them that this wasn't the case since this doctor can take however many people they want, and more importantly that no one cares about his success, and we went back and forth.

Here's my example for this situation. Imagine you're walking down the street, and you see a really sexy Lamborghini parked outside. You snap a picture, and post it on Facebook. It will probably get plenty of likes and comments. But, do you have anything to actually be proud of? I'd say, no. First of all, no one is denying that it's a cool car, but it's not YOUR car. You didn't do what it takes in life to afford and obtain one yourself. Therefore, unless you're a car photographer and want to post this as your artistic abilities, no one is going to associate you and your success (or lack of) with this Lamborghini. It has absolutely nothing to do with you. You were just at the right place at the right time, and took a picture.


It's a cool car, but no one cares because it's not yours!

I noticed my friend's wife doing something similar. She works as an executive assistant. On her Linkedin profile, she wrote something like this:

Dora Winifred Read, Executive Assistant to Mike Rotch, Global Communications and Outreach Director of SDN Auto Body

Do you see what she did there? She wrote quite a description about her boss, Mike Rotch. At the the end of the day though, she is just his assistant. She herself is not the Global Communications and Outreach Director of SDN Auto Body. She hasn't gotten up to that position. So instead, it seems like she is riding on Mike Rotch's success. Look, when ADCOMs are evaluating you, they care about YOUR success. They do not give two $h1ts about how amazing the doctor you shadowed is, or that you volunteered at MGH or the Mayo Clinic. You were at the place at the right time, and took part in an unselective process. You aren't any more impressive than 77 year old Phyllis that has a clean criminal history, no history of tuberculosis, and makes awesome chocolate chip cookies that is volunteering at MGH with you.

Speaking of volunteering, this brings me to another point that evokes a lot of emotions and outcry from people. I am very interested in the dynamics behind volunteering and the medical school admissions process. I had numerous thread talking about the philosophical theory behind volunteering for medical school admissions, and you can see them. I will not get very philosophical here. (See these threads: MORE Volunteering = LESS Desirable Applicant? and If you were offered compensation for volunteering, you would...)

Misstep Lesson #5: If You Aren't a Natural Volunteer, then Just Check the Boxes!
The medical school admissions process brings about this interesting phenomenon. These people who never volunteered significantly or cared about community service suddenly becoming the Second Coming of Mother Teresa nearly overnight! I refer to these as the "ZERO to Mother Teresa" applicant. These applicants will likely never have done any volunteer activities before starting college, but then suddenly are involved in numerous volunteer gigs that range from volunteering in the emergency department to ladling soup to homeless people at the soup kitchen. Then when they decide to either drop the pre-med track or get accepted to medical school, somehow they are no longer the next Mother Teresa and these activities get dropped. I don't have a reasonable explanation for this phenomenon of course, but we can all take educated guesses.


The original Mother Teresa before volunteering for professional school apps was hip and cool

Now before people take offense to me and say how I'm a horrible human being. Let me tell you about volunteering and what I've noticed. Before that, I wanted to let you know that I am going to have some Mexican food tonight with my wife. I will have the soft taco dinner plate with rice and beans, and Dr. Pepper. After that I will workout on my home gym. Now you're asking, why did I just tell you that? Because those are things that I enjoy doing. I am going to do them tonight regardless of what anyone says or thinks. I will not go into the SDN Critical Care forum and ask current pulmonary/critical care fellows how eating Mexican food and working out tonight is going to affect my chances for getting a fellowship. I am not going to ask them how my photography hobby is going to affect my fellowship chances. I will do my friend's family photo shoot around Thanksgiving this year without having to ask SDN how it will affect my chances. So far, I have met many medical students and lots of residents and physicians. And to this day, I have only met two people that have taken part in significant volunteering during their lives. Both of them were at my former employer, and have never applied to medical school or any professional school for that matter. I also worked recently with a medical student that was rotating with us. I thought he was awesome. He was a really nice guy, got along well with his colleagues and patients, and did a great job with his work. I never asked him what he did during his free time on the weekends. It doesn't matter to me whether he is partying, volunteering at the local homeless shelter, or doing anything else. It's all completely irrelevant to the job he's doing here.

That's why, if you have to ask on SDN which volunteer gig you should do, it means that you would not have been doing it under your own free will. There's nothing wrong with that. If you are pursuing something you passionate about, you would do it regardless of what anyone on SDN says, and you probably wouldn't post it on here to begin with! That's why you don't see me posting my daily activities on SDN to see how it will affect my fellowship chances. Since we're talking about hobbies, that's where I get to tell you about my other neat side gig! I'm an aspiring magician! Now, do you want to see a cool trick?

I will have a regular pre-med list me five different clinical volunteering experiences. But here's the catch, they will be placed in an envelope, so their description will be a mystery to me. I will use my incredible magic skills to figure out the one that looks best.

1. Mystery Volunteer Gig #1
2. Mystery Volunteer Gig #2
3. Mystery Volunteer Gig #3
4. Mystery Volunteer Gig #4
5. Mystery Volunteer Gig #5


I can't pull a bunny out of a hat, but can surely help pull admissions advice out!

And now I will find the best one... It is... *DRUM ROLL*... The one that is closest to you and has the most convenient hours and hopefully enough down time to get studying done! That's it! There's no one volunteering gig that will give you a leg up over another. Honestly, think about it. Can you actually go up to a hospital volunteer and say your volunteering is "superior" to theirs for whatever reasons? No, because you'd look like a massive tool and it would sound really stupid. Anyway, if pre-meds found something that looked better, they would all flock to it. When you stop to take a look at it, you realize that it's basic hospital volunteering that is the best gig you can get. Oh, and before you try dropping some serious cash on a volunteer mission trip to some exotic locale, please read this.

At the end of the day, if you are passionate about something, you would have been already doing it. If not, your best bet is to check the boxes in the best way possible, giving ADCOMs the ultimate positive perception of the volunteering and additional extra curricular activities. I describe this in depth in this guide: Medical School Admissions, Blackjack, and the Art of Checking Boxes

The biggest problem pre-meds run into is picking up a laundry-list of volunteer experiences, and then end up having their grades and MCAT suffer dramatically. Just like entry-level clinical jobs, a laundry-list of volunteer activities will not make up for lackluster grades and MCAT. Secondly, if you can't get into medical school, employers won't care about these experiences. The news gets even worse if you're already in medical school. If you managed to get into medical school as the ultimate ZERO to Mother Teresa applicant and managed to convince the ADCOMs that you're the Second Coming of Mother Teresa that is going to change the world of primary care in the medical school's community, then I'm about to tell you something that's going to make you angry. Your orthopedic surgery or dermatology residency program directors aren't going to care about the volunteer work you did before medical school. The slate is wiped clean. Either you volunteer during medical school, and write it on ERAS, or you don't put it down at all. We were told specifically to NOT put anything down that wasn't continued into medical school. So you were a saint before you started medical school, but then you went back down to the level of being just above a White Supremacist when starting medical school. In terms of an RPG, your level 78 just went down to level 1, and the battles will be even harder than before! So if you don't care for volunteering or for specific things, your time would be better spent either studying or doing research. Research is forever (you can put research done prior to medical school on your ERAS application), volunteering is not. So check the boxes wisely, because if you don't, you will stumble. You can end up underemployed like the people mentioned earlier, and no one will care if you're aspiring to be the next Mother Teresa.

*In Conclusion*
And there you have it. Unlike other competitive processes in college, the medical school admissions process often drives people to make numerous missteps. Even though being a pre-med is simply taking the required courses, MCAT, getting minimal clinical experience (NOT skills), and volunteering (unwritten but well-known rule), it has become into a massive RPG with side-quests. Instead of focusing on the task at hand of getting into medical school and becoming physicians, pre-meds feel the need to become chief medical scribes or be the CNA of the Month for twelve consecutive months at their hospital. Often times they end up doing science majors due to the perception that it will improve their application, but it won't. They end up placing all of their eggs in one basket. The lucky ones get that coveted seat in medical school. The other lucky ones quit early in the game where they can still control their destiny. The unlucky ones are often left with a college degree and are left underemployed in a crappy job they could have done without a high school diploma and a crippling amount of debt. While we hear success stories all the time here on the Student Doctor Network, we rarely, if ever, hear about those that have failed. Sadly, too many people take missteps that negatively impact the rest of their lives. But here I have listed some real life cases, with the missteps they made, and what you should do instead. You can choose to listen or ignore me, I don't care. I'm only trying to help you and am looking out for you guys. Take whatever path you choose, but realize that the pre-med path tends to have severe consequences if things don't work out in your favor. When I play Final Fanatsy 7, and party ends up dying, the screen fades to black and I continue. In real life, when you're playing the pre-med RPG and end up failing, the consequences are real.

Choose wisely, and as always, feel free to ask any questions. Also please post some anecdotes you have learned along the way from yourself or others!

Additional reading:
Planes2Doc's Ultimate Guide to Maximizing Your Medical School Application
Planes2Doc's Ultimate Guide to Maximizing Your Medical School Application (High School)
Planes2Doc's Ultimate Guide to Maximizing Your Medical School Application (Non-Traditional)
Medical School Admissions, Blackjack, and the Art of Checking Boxes

If you found this thread helpful, can you please take a few minutes and complete one of the following surveys for a research project I'm working on regarding this topic? Thank you!
 
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Nobody is replying because they are stunned that someone would write that much on SDN. I say that as someone who has a rep for writing too much in single posts on SDN.
I enjoy writing, but hope this is helpful if people do have a bit of time on their hands to read it.
 
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The medical school admissions process is like Final Fantasy 7. You can play the game linearly and beat Sephiroth at around level 40. You can also do all the side-quests and max out your stats for weeks and months on end until level 99. When pre-meds do this, they often put all of their eggs into one basket and they fail at more than just getting into medical school. These are their stories...

If what I just wrote is tl;dr, then I want people to leave with this: Getting into medical school is about the END RESULT, it's NOT and should never be about the journey.
 
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On the topic of life lessons, games and Final Fantasy, allow me to share this here. It's a great morale booster, especially for those struggling in the process, be it pre-med (whether you've dropped), Dead Silence Squad, non-trad and what not. This short video came from one of my fav YouTuber channel.

 

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I enjoy writing, but hope this is helpful if people do have a bit of time on their hands to read it.
I'm already in medical school and read the whole thing. Ruby Weapon >> MCAT, we will see how Step 1 goes...

Nobody is replying because they are stunned that someone would write that much on SDN. I say that as someone who has a rep for writing too much in single posts on SDN.
 

sinombre

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If what I just wrote is tl;dr, then I want people to leave with this: Getting into medical school is about the END RESULT, it's NOT and should never be about the journey.
Hmm. Part of me wants to disagree with this, but part of me doesn't... because that would mean I have to thoroughly read the whole thing (which probably won't be particularly useful to me given that I already got into and graduated from medical school). But, it's great to see people continuing to contribute to this place after getting into medical school and beyond. There aren't a whole lot of people who stick around. I hope to keep contributing as well, but likely won't be able to come up with anything this lengthy or this creative.

Anyway, I don't think these two things are mutually exclusive (you might not be implying that they are). If there is a single most important end point, getting in is obviously it. But the journey itself can be fulfilling as well. I did a ton of interesting things as a pre-med that were useful for applying to med school, but those things were personally interesting and worthwhile as well.
 

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"a Stephen King-length novella"
 

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Meet Jimmy
Jimmy is tired of getting concise advice, and is craving a lengthy narrative to help him get into med school. Will Jimmy ever find what he's looking for? No, instead he dies miserable and alone.
Lesson #1: Don't be like Jimmy!


In all seriousness there might be some good advice in there but it's kind of buried, and I'm not sure how many people are going to go digging for potentially helpful tips within all of that. Maybe I'm wrong though, some people seemed to like your other long posts.
 
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Hmm. Part of me wants to disagree with this, but part of me doesn't... because that would mean I have to thoroughly read the whole thing (which probably won't be particularly useful to me given that I already got into and graduated from medical school). But, it's great to see people continuing to contribute to this place after getting into medical school and beyond. There aren't a whole lot of people who stick around. I hope to keep contributing as well, but likely won't be able to come up with anything this lengthy or this creative.

Anyway, I don't think these two things are mutually exclusive (you might not be implying that they are). If there is a single most important end point, getting in is obviously it. But the journey itself can be fulfilling as well. I did a ton of interesting things as a pre-med that were useful for applying to med school, but those things were personally interesting and worthwhile as well.
Yeah it was always my hope to keep contributing. Things got pretty busy once residency started, but now that I've gotten used to things, was able to take some time out and write this. Once you start residency and finally see how all the pieces fit together, you can see how things work.

I agree that pre-meds can do some pretty cool worthwhile things, and see where you're coming from with that. But the argument I'm trying to make is that the cost of doing these things and not getting admitted can leave people underemployed and not with a good future. I've seen this first hand with so many people, which is why I wanted to write this piece. The medical school admissions process (as well as medical school and the residency match, and probably soon to be fellowship match) is incredibly unforgiving, and with most AOA programs becoming ACGME accredited, things will continue to be less forgiving from the top to the bottom.
 
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Meet Jimmy
Jimmy is tired of getting concise advice, and is craving a lengthy narrative to help him get into med school. Will Jimmy ever find what he's looking for? No, instead he dies miserable and alone.
Lesson #1: Don't be like Jimmy!


In all seriousness there might be some good advice in there but it's kind of buried, and I'm not sure how many people are going to go digging for potentially helpful tips within all of that. Maybe I'm wrong though, some people seemed to like your other long posts.
Haha. Hopefully people will have some time on their hands to read it. I enjoy long forum posts when I have a lot of down time but am not at home.

To be concise, I'll leave people with what I wrote earlier: Getting into medical school is about the END RESULT, it's NOT and should never be about the journey.
 
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um grinding to 99, hatching the golden chocobo, and getting knights of the round is totally worth it
0/10

disclaimer: didnt read a gd word
 

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The medical school admissions process is like Final Fantasy 7. You can play the game linearly and beat Sephiroth at around level 40. You can also do all the side-quests and max out your stats for weeks and months on end until level 99. When pre-meds do this, they often put all of their eggs into one basket and they fail at more than just getting into medical school. These are their stories...

If what I just wrote is tl;dr, then I want people to leave with this: Getting into medical school is about the END RESULT, it's NOT and should never be about the journey.
Final Fantasy 7 = Greatest game ever.
Just thought this should be mentioned.
The remake will be the reason I flunk out, if it ever comes out...
 

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I disagree with OP. I can appreciate the point of view but I just can't get on board with it. If you extrapolate this philosophy to other things in life, it becomes too narrow sighted and boring (at least in my opinion). If medical school is about the end result, so is residency. If residency is about the end result, is your entire career a means to an end? What is that end? Retirement? Death?

I'm totally on board for having goals and playing the game to reach those goals. Jumping through hoops and checking boxes is part of it. However, if you focus your entire career on playing this game, I think you'd end up miserable. Your statement that unsuccessful pre-meds/applicants will face difficult consequences assumes that they are only playing the game. I disagree. If pre-meds explore their interests outside of checking boxes, they'll have options to pursue if they don't get into medical school.

I appreciate your post and with all respect, your opinion is valid. However, I think your opinion is exactly at the core of what is wrong with today's premeds. It's the basis for the "what will the adcom think?" mentality. After years of experience, I'm certain that adcoms and interviewers can sniff this **** from a mile away. If your motivations are based on "getting into medical school" and not sincerely based in your interests and passions, I would argue that sets you up to face difficult consequences later down the line. Physician dissatisfaction and increasing physician suicide rates come to mind....

Hey congrats on another long ass post though
 

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I thought the advice was pretty damn solid but it goes so against what most pre-meds believe that I don't think you'll get as much love. Hopefully, there are at least a few people that take something away from it.

The only real thing I will disagree with is working while in school. Grades and MCAT come first as long as everything in your life is paid for. If you don't have family support then you need to make sure you can keep a roof over your head. You can take out more loans but I don't think that's a great idea either if you already need loans to pay for tuition.
 

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This post makes me want to study, great job!

I also agree with every point especially the volunteering.
 
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I disagree with OP. I can appreciate the point of view but I just can't get on board with it. If you extrapolate this philosophy to other things in life, it becomes too narrow sighted and boring (at least in my opinion). If medical school is about the end result, so is residency. If residency is about the end result, is your entire career a means to an end? What is that end? Retirement? Death?
I think that is taking it to the extreme. I mentioned other common pathways that people take in college, such as law school for example. When someone is applying to law school, they focus on rocking the LSAT and might volunteer or something here or there. With the pre-med path, pre-meds are spending way too much time doing things that have nothing to do with being a doctor (working as a CNA or EMT), as well as doing a bunch of stuff that no other college student would likely do (hundreds of hours of consistent volunteering). Then like I said, when people invest everything during college into getting into medical school, they can end up in a very bad situation. For example, by choosing to go for medical school versus investment banking, you are already giving up on investment banking since that requires its own hoops to jump through. By doing a non-business major and then possibly ending up with bad grades, this closes additional doors for careers. Employers are not very forgiving. Now, I realize some people may be happy as a college-educated Starbucks barista with a well-rounded educational background, but I'm guessing a majority of pre-meds on this site won't be.

I'm totally on board for having goals and playing the game to reach those goals. Jumping through hoops and checking boxes is part of it. However, if you focus your entire career on playing this game, I think you'd end up miserable. Your statement that unsuccessful pre-meds/applicants will face difficult consequences assumes that they are only playing the game. I disagree. If pre-meds explore their interests outside of checking boxes, they'll have options to pursue if they don't get into medical school.
I'm not saying all pre-meds that fail at getting into medical school will fail in other aspects of life. We all know that a large number of billionaires in this world didn't finish college. Also, I know people personally that didn't finish college and are completely successful, and make a lot of money. But it's going to be harder to get a good paying job as a biology major with a 2.8 GPA and hundreds of hours volunteering versus an economics major with a 3.7 GPA with internship experience under their belt.

I appreciate your post and with all respect, your opinion is valid. However, I think your opinion is exactly at the core of what is wrong with today's premeds. It's the basis for the "what will the adcom think?" mentality. After years of experience, I'm certain that adcoms and interviewers can sniff this **** from a mile away. If your motivations are based on "getting into medical school" and not sincerely based in your interests and passions, I would argue that sets you up to face difficult consequences later down the line. Physician dissatisfaction and increasing physician suicide rates come to mind....
I wasn't the one that made things the way they are. It's pre-meds over the years that made things this way. I'm just trying to help people navigate through this the best they can, while keeping their doors open. People that genuinely enjoy something would be doing it in the first place. But people that come here asking whether ED volunteering looks better than the front desk likely would not have been doing this if they weren't pre-meds. When I was a fourth year medical student, I was able to sniff out third year medical students that hated being on said rotation. As a resident now, I can get a pretty good grasp of how the medical students feel. But at this point my concerns are very different than the box-checking pre-meds attempt to do, and none of that stuff matters whatsoever.

Remember, if you take your "typical" college student that has no plans on applying to professional school, I would like to see how many of them end up spending hundreds of hours volunteering for different organizations and get part-time jobs with significant time commitments that cut into their studies so that they can become proficient at something they never plan on doing. I visited some friends at the University of Illinois Urbana/Champaign on weekends before, and can assure you that they were partying it up on Fridays, not ladling soup at the local soup kitchen.

Hey congrats on another long ass post though
Umm, thanks?
 
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I thought the advice was pretty damn solid but it goes so against what most pre-meds believe that I don't think you'll get as much love. Hopefully, there are at least a few people that take something away from it.

The only real thing I will disagree with is working while in school. Grades and MCAT come first as long as everything in your life is paid for. If you don't have family support then you need to make sure you can keep a roof over your head. You can take out more loans but I don't think that's a great idea either if you already need loans to pay for tuition.
Thanks! I was pretty lucky that I didn't have to work extensively in undergrad. I actually delivered pizzas 1-2x weekly at most, and it helped to pay for things like my phone bill. I understand there are people that have to work. For them, I would recommend service jobs that tend to be more money over shorter hours. EMT and CNA work can be long odd shifts and cut into important study time.
 
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Final Fantasy 7 = Greatest game ever.
Just thought this should be mentioned.
The remake will be the reason I flunk out, if it ever comes out...
I'm going to pull the trigger on the 1080 Ti soon so I can enjoy it if it ever comes out. Hopefully that will be after intern year is over. ;)
 
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getting aerith's max limit break = publishing as a sophomore
I never played aerith once I didn't have to. Too weak.
 
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Thanks! I was pretty lucky that I didn't have to work extensively in undergrad. I actually delivered pizzas 1-2x weekly at most, and it helped to pay for things like my phone bill. I understand there are people that have to work. For them, I would recommend service jobs that tend to be more money over shorter hours. EMT and CNA work can be long odd shifts and cut into important study time.
Definitely. I'm able to work full-time and only work 3 days per week as a PCT. When I was taking classes it gave me a good chunk of time to get my studying and other stuff done.
 
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I've read the entire post, partly, because I was going through this process and I was able to relate to literally all the points. I asked many times about what volunteer experience will look "better" on my application and I looked for many clinical jobs, thankfully did not find any.

I really enjoyed your post and I think it is very important for every pre-med student to read and understand.
 
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I've read the entire post, partly, because I was going through this process and I was able to relate to literally all the points. I asked many times about what volunteer experience will look "better" on my application and I looked for many clinical jobs, thankfully did not find any.

I really enjoyed your post and I think it is very important for every pre-med student to read and understand.
Thank you! I'm glad that it is able to make a difference for some people! Best of luck!
 
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As someone already mentioned, your opinion goes against a lot of the views present on sdn, but I generally agree.

I'm more awestruck by how you were able to make the time to think and write this out during residency.
Thanks! I know going against the common beliefs can get some flak, but it's worth it to have some debate and being able to see differing viewpoints.

Also today my wife had to go to work during most of the day and I had the day off, and decided against doing any board study questions. :) I would like to see more people from medical school through residency through fellowships all the way through attending physicians take the time to reflect. What I know now is completely different to what I knew before medical school.

When I was an undergrad and had family members in the hospital, I always thought that all of these doctors were really rude because I never saw their and they weren't providing direct patient care. When I began shadowing and then started medical school, I realized that doctors weren't responsible for that direct patient care. It was nurses, CNA, and other staff.

Finally in medical school, I began to understand the differences between specialties and what everyones' scopes of practice are.

Now as a resident, I understand that when I'm called to do an admission in the emergency department, there's a reason why I can take my time to look at the patient's labs and take my time making my way down there, instead of bolting out the door and running as fast as humanly possible.

Systems based practice is of massive importance when you're a healthcare provider, and when people are missing the point, they spend a considerable amount of time and effort doing things that really are unnecessary. If we had more people that are already physicians providing that insight, that would make things on SDN infinitely more helpful!

Thanks again for the kind words!
 
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Great guide and I agree 100%! I also liked your box-checking thread a lot.

I especially agreed with your point about pre-meds getting overly involved in clinical jobs (EMT, CNA, scribing). The analogy of these jobs as "side quests" is perfect. Spending excessive time on them is inefficient and doesn't bring you to the main objective: getting into medical school. I have a lot of friends going into these activities at the expense of grades, MCAT, and time which could be spent doing more "high-yield" activities and it has almost become a trendy thing to do among premeds at my uni (getting your EMT license, working as an EMT, scribing, etc...) My philosophy is probably similar to yours in that ECs should be done with intention and carefully selected in order to check the right boxes and get the most "bang for your buck", and hopefully be something you somewhat enjoy/or will come to enjoy through exposure.
 
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Great guide and I agree 100%! I also liked your box-checking thread a lot.

I especially agreed with your point about pre-meds getting overly involved in clinical jobs (EMT, CNA, scribing). The analogy of these jobs as "side quests" is perfect. Spending excessive time on them is inefficient and doesn't bring you to the main objective: getting into medical school. I have a lot of friends going into these activities at the expense of grades, MCAT, and time which could be spent doing more "high-yield" activities and it has almost become a trendy thing to do among premeds at my uni (getting your EMT license, working as an EMT, scribing, etc...) My philosophy is probably similar to yours in that ECs should be done with intention and carefully selected in order to check the right boxes and get the most "bang for your buck", and hopefully be something you somewhat enjoy/or will come to enjoy through exposure.
Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it! I'm curious what your friends that are doing those activities would have to say about them. It's been a while since I have talked to any real life pre-meds that are not on SDN.
 
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@Planes2Doc

I read your post and it was really informative. Some of the things you mentioned also resemble parts of my life/journey. For instance, the clinical job that I have which doesn't require a degree and my poor academic history.

What would you suggest is the best route for me to take in order to get into medical school?
 
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I'm going to pull the trigger on the 1080 Ti soon so I can enjoy it if it ever comes out. Hopefully that will be after intern year is over. ;)
Wait are you an intern now? Did you take time off during med school or do dual degrees? I could've sworn you were further along than me in training.
 
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I actually read the entire thing.

It didn't take me that long - about 15 minutes or so between bites of delicious white pizza. Some good stuff in there (your tome, not just the pizza).
You're clearly not a millennial and wouldn't understand. Things aren't like they used to be, and our attention span is--

I just realized I've never played Final Fantasy. Is it a game worth playing? Residency will probably make it difficult to start a new game anyway. Man, I'm tired. And hungry.

What were we talking about again?
 

Ad2b

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I'm glad that it is able to make a difference for some people!
Read the whole thing; kept equating side quests to WoW (not an FF or x or Ps2 gamer) and it made sense.

In game, readying for a raid and making sure I have mats available to help everyone in my raid group, sometimes... I meander down a road and pick flowers because I need herbs for pots/flasks and then of course, there's the regular grinding but what I forgot about was KILLING @#t so that I could feed my peeps some buff food.

And that is like the premed path in a way. There was part of your post where I thought, "He is talking about ME?!" (of course not, you don't know me or my story) but it felt so relevant.

The excuses. And tonight, as I sat thinking about what I'd done to prep for the MCAT on Tues (two times rescheduled due to power outage and then some thing called Irma), I was doing it again... but I really want to be a doc. And there's only one thing left, really, for me to do. Take the damn test and get off the side road called, "Excuses."

Thanks P2D - hope the tacos were swell ;)
 

Smelt

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Oct 11, 2016
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Thanks for posting this, read the whole thing. Your philosophy seems to be to take the easiest and simplest path to get to med school, which I agree with. In that light, do you regret going to a competitive school like Northwestern? It seems like schools such as NU that practice grade deflation and where you're really put in a competitive environment make it a lot harder for most to get to med school because at the end of the day undergrad institution matters little unless you're shooting for the top schools.
 

SyllabusOrBust

Not your average conspectus
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Thank you for providing us with your insight into the pre-med journey, as well as the pitfalls associated with it. It's really helpful to get the perspective of someone who has been through the process already!

I appreciate you taking the time to write all of this!

P.S. Those stock photos had me cracking up!
 
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Planes2Doc

Planes2Doc

Residency is ruff!
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@Planes2Doc

I read your post and it was really informative. Some of the things you mentioned also resemble parts of my life/journey. For instance, the clinical job that I have which doesn't require a degree and my poor academic history.

What would you suggest is the best route for me to take in order to get into medical school?
How far along are you with school? If you're actively studying for classes and the MCAT, I would not do the clinical job and stick to volunteering. If you need money, do a service job. If you are beyond academics and are beefing up your app, the clinical job should be okay.
 
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Planes2Doc

Planes2Doc

Residency is ruff!
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Wait are you an intern now? Did you take time off during med school or do dual degrees? I could've sworn you were further along than me in training.
Yeah I took a year off, so I'm a PGY-1 now in internal medicine.
 
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Planes2Doc

Planes2Doc

Residency is ruff!
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Jul 23, 2012
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Read the whole thing; kept equating side quests to WoW (not an FF or x or Ps2 gamer) and it made sense.

In game, readying for a raid and making sure I have mats available to help everyone in my raid group, sometimes... I meander down a road and pick flowers because I need herbs for pots/flasks and then of course, there's the regular grinding but what I forgot about was KILLING @#t so that I could feed my peeps some buff food.

And that is like the premed path in a way. There was part of your post where I thought, "He is talking about ME?!" (of course not, you don't know me or my story) but it felt so relevant.

The excuses. And tonight, as I sat thinking about what I'd done to prep for the MCAT on Tues (two times rescheduled due to power outage and then some thing called Irma), I was doing it again... but I really want to be a doc. And there's only one thing left, really, for me to do. Take the damn test and get off the side road called, "Excuses."

Thanks P2D - hope the tacos were swell ;)
Good luck! Rock that MCAT! The tacos were fantastic by the way. Sadly I lack self-control with the chips.
 
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Planes2Doc

Planes2Doc

Residency is ruff!
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Jul 23, 2012
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Thanks for posting this, read the whole thing. Your philosophy seems to be to take the easiest and simplest path to get to med school, which I agree with. In that light, do you regret going to a competitive school like Northwestern? It seems like schools such as NU that practice grade deflation and where you're really put in a competitive environment make it a lot harder for most to get to med school because at the end of the day undergrad institution matters little unless you're shooting for the top schools.
Going to a better school with a good reputation makes you feel pretty good about yourself. People still ask where I went to undergrad, and I'm proud of it. Back when I was at Northwestern, there was actually lots of grade inflation. The basic sciences were always considered tough. General chemistry was a weeder and people did Harvard summer classes in order to avoid it. I'd be surprised if things have changed.

Anyway, a lot of BS/MD programs are weaker schools that attempt to attract top talent. For instance, UIC has one that tries poaching students that otherwise would have gone to Northwestern, University of Chicago, or UIUC if we're talking strictly about Illinois. Back when I was in high school, UIC based this on class rank, so I would not have been accepted to the BS/MD program since I went to a very competitive high school on the north shore. It did prepare me very well for college, so it was a double-edged sword.
 
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Planes2Doc

Planes2Doc

Residency is ruff!
7+ Year Member
Jul 23, 2012
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Thank you for providing us with your insight into the pre-med journey, as well as the pitfalls associated with it. It's really helpful to get the perspective of someone who has been through the process already!

I appreciate you taking the time to write all of this!

P.S. Those stock photos had me cracking up!
Haha thanks! I'm glad I could help and stock photos rock!
 
OP
Planes2Doc

Planes2Doc

Residency is ruff!
7+ Year Member
Jul 23, 2012
2,748
2,320
The South
Status
Resident [Any Field]
I actually read the entire thing.

It didn't take me that long - about 15 minutes or so between bites of delicious white pizza. Some good stuff in there (your tome, not just the pizza).
Thanks! And pizza is awesome!!!
 
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